Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hello Again

For the first time in our married life, the Wife and I had Christmas together on Christmas! One of the joys of having both of us in health care is that one of us usually works on a holiday. But this year it was just the four of us sharing a delightful time!

Santa visited of course, and loved the cookies and hot chocolate left by the Boyo and Sweet Pea. He left a plastic sled, amongst other things, for the Boyo. It was tastefully propped under the tree. When the Boyo noticed it his eyes went wide with excitement.

"Momma! Daddy! LOOK! Santa left me a BOAT!"

It took a little explaining to tell him that this was a special boat that could run on snow. I think he fully understood later while "snow boating".

To see him barrelling down the hill in our yard, screaming his delight, was a truly fun Christmas memory.

Sweet Pea had a fun first Christmas. Unwrapping her gifts and eating the paper. Discarding the toy for the box. She did get a lot of clothes, mostly pink, and she looks adorable in them.

The Wife and I are still working on our gifts for each other. More on that when we get it done.

In other news, I am feeling much better. The N/V/D only lasted a couple of days, and I was able to finally eat some of the fine meals we made at Christmas. We had our friends over on Christmas day for dinner, and a good time was had by all.

Lastly, I realize I have not made too many entries this month. Something happening at work has been taking up lots of time for research and such. But the new year will see some changes in that, including the resumption of the Picture a Day Challenge (slightly modified). Head over there for more details.

This year I am thankful for the chance to reconnect with old friends. It has been nice remembering that there are folks out there who remain true friends though the years separate us. I'm thankful for the health of my family and for the real blessing of just waking up in the morning and being able to function!

I'm most thankful for the addition of my beautiful daughter to our clan, my amazing son and his outlook on the world, and my wonderful wife, who loves me without reservation.

I'll write more tomorrow.

More Later

Monday, December 22, 2008



The kiddos and the Wife already played this game, and I thought I could dodge the bullet. But somehow it found me with a vengeance. At the ER we call it "N/V/D" for Nausea/Vomiting/Diarrhea. Coupled with this fun is a bout of weirdness that is Uvulitis. A virus that has infected my Uvula (the little dangly thing at the back of your throat) and made it swell. This gives me the feeling of always having something right in the back of my throat to swallow, or be choked by, or something to be coughed up like a hairball.

I developed that over last week. It blew up on Friday with a sore throat that made swallowing saliva feel an awful lot like what I would imagine drinking part molten, part hardened glass would feel like. Burning and cutting and stabbing pains that nearly made me cry. So from Friday to Sunday I had a grand total of three mugs of tepid "hot" chocolate, a bowl of beef broth, also tepid temperature, and a little bowl of tomato soup from Panera, usually a favorite, but made brutal by the acidic quality found in tomatoes. I did have a few chunks of bread as well.

Sunday night, my throat started feeling pretty good, and I had a bit of water for fun. I was glad to be feeling like I might actually be able to eat something before work on Monday night. I stayed up late last night getting switched around for my night shift, and fell asleep for the first time in days not trying to hack up and spit out my uvula.

The Boyo woke me this morning wanting breakfast. I swung my legs out of bed and knew right away that something was terribly, terribly wrong. Instead of my usual morning routines, I ran to the bathroom and seemingly exploded from every orifice. The Boyo knocked on the door and asked if I was alright. I think he was having flashbacks to last week when he did much the same thing.

Needless to say, I have spent today in bed, and sitting in the big green chair catching up on electronic correspondence. Typing, the movement of my fingers, is the least nauseating thing I can do right now. And with the computer on my lap, it discourages the Boyo from climbing on. I really don't want to give this bug back to anyone.


Hoping it clears out by Christmas, as this is the first Christmas Eve/ Christmas Day that the Wife and I have had off together in six years, since before we were married. We've actually been talking about some Christmas Traditions that don't involve one off us heading off to work! It would be a shame for N/V/D to be the new tradition.


This too, shall pass.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dad's Birthday

My dad had his birthday on the 16th. He's always been one of my favorite people. Extremely supportive of his family, he often joined us for adventures growing up as a chaperone or trip leader.

He's always been a role model for me. He loves his wife, his kids, his grandkids without reservation. I want to be a great father to my kids because I had a great father as a kid.

I know his big wish for holidays and birthdays is to have family around, and I am sory I had to work this year for his birthday, as it would have been great to be there. But I know he understands as well.

He's got the spirit of an adventurous kid. Always wiling to try new things and learn new skills. The river trip and hog butchering come to mind!

He's one of my favorite people. And my hero and best friend.

Happy Birthday Father. Thank you for always being there for me.

I love you very much.

More Later

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holly Comes Home: Meet Ben

The first thing we did when we got home was give Holly a bath. She was pound smelly. That pungent urine/feces/wet dog smell. The Wife got her into the shower, and I started explaining her presence to Ben.

After the shower and drying time, we let Holly explore. Ben stood at the top of the stairs and growled, and Holly pranced happily to and fro at the bottom of the steps. Then it dawned on me, this dog had never seen stairs before!

My suspicion was confirmed when I tried to get her to follow me up the stairs. It was like she was learning to walk. Wobbly legs, tail between the back two. She came up a couple of steps, then turned back. Finally she mustered the courage and stumbled up the stairs. She was supremely happy with herself, wagging her tail so hard that her whole hind end swayed. Ben stood in the foyer, growling. But Holly was not dismayed.

I tried to get her up the second flight to the living room, but instead she went up and down the lower flight a few times, showing off her new skill. Finally she came up to the main level and started checking things out.

After an initial sniff around, she and the Boyo began their games. Their favorite two are tug of war and RUN! The first is done with a six inch rope tied in knots on the end and frayed (all the better to floss with) RUN! is played by simply running everywhere and anywhere, the Boyo laughing with unrestrained joy, Holly the Puppy prancing along behind or going in front, puppy paws a whirl.

For three hours they played. Amazingly, the dog ran out of steam first! She stretched out on the living room rug, panting and happy. The Boyo sat beside her at first, then stretched out next to her. She rolled over and slumped into him. It was quite charming.

Holly is five months old, but already in the day and a half she's been here, she has demonstrated a great kinship with our pack. She is calm when she needs to be, hyper when she needs to be, plays well with the kiddos, keeps trying to woo Ben over. She is curled up at my feet right now, fast asleep with her head on my foot. When we change Sweet Pea, Holly comes in and lies by the crib, alert and curious, but not hyper. The Wife and I both think she could easily be a cross between Rascal and Shoba, similar features of each in her. But we were surprised to find characteristics of both of those dogs in Holly as well. The way she stretches out. The way she acts around us. The gentle nature. The look in her eyes. A day and a half, and she is well received by the pack... generally.

Ben still growls and snarls if she gets too close. But then he's always been a bit skittish around others. Dogs, cats, humans... doesn't matter. I'm really the only one Ben will spend any time with. He'll obey the Wife when she calls. Doesn't mind the scratching and attention, but goes back to his spots when she's done. He'll curl up next to me though, and although his snarling and growling can get quite fierce sounding, I am certain he would never bite me. He doesn't like the vet, doesn't like other dogs much, doesn't like how fast and loud the Boyo can be. He self selects his company, and generally prefers to be alone on his bed, or curled up near me.

So when Holly comes around, he'll get really growly and I'll stick my hand in his snarling mouth. This quiets him, as he is realizing that I'm calling his bluff! We're going to be working on socialization with him for a time I think. At least until he tolerates her like he did with Shoba and Rascal. He's going to take some time though.

When Holly met Emma the Cat, she went into a play stance and wagged her tail. Emma hissed once and just stood there and stared. Holly bounced a bit. Emma stared. Holly cocked her head questioningly and her tail slowed down. Emma stared. Holly stood up and looked back at us with a puzzled stare as if to say "Is she for real?" Emma stared. Then Emma walked downstairs regally. And so they now ignore each other.

Well. At least Holly is fitting in with the humans well. She's an easily trainable dog. Today we played fetch with the rope. She can 'go get it' and 'bring it back' and 'drop it' on command. We still have her on the leash for going potty, but tonight after I let her back in, I went back to get Ben and she bolted. As she dashed out into the yard, me following behind trying to catch her, I remembered the words I had been telling the Boyo all day long.

"If you want her to come to you, don't chase her! She just thinks that's a game. Call her and run away from her, and she'll catch YOU!"

Sure enough, when I stopped, called her name and headed for the door, she was quick on my heels and ready to go back inside. She's going to be an outstanding dog. We are going to bring out those Shoba/Rascal-esque traits that we loved so much, and train her to more commands. I think she'll fit in just fine!

More Later

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Holly Comes Home

We have a kennel still from our dog fostering days. We almost threw it out this last summer, but figured perhaps it would come in handy should we get a new dog. Unfortunately it is too big for the back of our vehicle, so we had to improvise with Holly a bit.

The Boyo got to pick out a new collar and leash for her. We had been emphasizing that she was a girl, since the Boyo had said "good boy" a few times, and wanted to name her Joseph. So he viewed the rack of collars with a critical eye, and very quickly grabbed the pink collar. We bought a matching pink leash too.

We took our new puppy out to the SUV and had a time figuring out how to get her to stay in the back! Finally we figured it out and were on our way.

Holly is a great traveller. She sat for a bit, and sniffed a lot. I had put a piece of carpet down in the back the day before to bring Ben up. I don't usually re-carpet over a carpeted place, but when I had taken our part of a Thanksgiving dinner over to some friends for that holiday, some turkey gravy had spilled on the factory installed rug. Now, my gravy is fantastic, and no match for even the most well behaved canine. Unfortunately about half way home Holly had a stinky accident on that carpet covering. We stopped and cleaned up, and threw the offending carpet into a dumpster. But that left no shielding between Holly and the gravy.

So the distraction game began. We called her name (which she had learned by the time we got home) tried to coerce her with pats on the head. Even had a stick that the Boyo had previously put in the car that we used to play. But the gravy was too powerful.

At one point I heard a ripping sound. The Wife crawled back to check on the damage and started laughing hysterically. she sat back in the seat and handed me the vehicle logo, cleanly ripped from the carpeting. When she could finally speak, the Wife said that Holly had looked up with it in her mouth and handed it over.

When we got home, the introductions to life at our house began...

More Later

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dog Day Afternoon

So, we heard from Marco's foster. Apparently Marco has trouble with traveling. Howling, whining, barking and my favorite, explosive diarrhea! Since we do a fair amount of traveling with our dogs, this didn't seem like it would be the best match.

We had scheduled a visit with Marco et. al. for yesterday afternoon, and got the call yesterday morning. After talking it over with The Wife, we decided to head to a town north of us by a bit and check out their pound dogs. We had been perusing Petfinder again, and had found that this particular shelter had five dogs that seemed like they had the potential to be a good match!

Our first experience was with Jack. Jack was a really great looking dog, but Jack didn't really care that we were there. After sniffing around the room, he started marking things. The wall, the cat tree, and then me. Jack lost so many points that he was escorted from the room without another word.

Then came Emma. She was a 5 month old puppy, and hyper as only a puppy in a pound could be. But she made the rounds to all of us, snuggling into laps, licking furiously at hands, and wagging tail like there was no tomorrow. She was all black, and a blur. Then the Boyo picked up a chew rope and the two had a gleeful tug of war for a bit. The Boyo was very upset when we ended the game to check out other dogs. But we liked her.

Next up was Shaggy. He was pretty calm, gentle and friendly, but roughly the size of a small pickup truck. He literally knocked the Boyo off of his feet with his wagging tail. If only he had been a quarter of his size, he would have been great.

Then came Autumn. A 4 year old German Shepherd mix. About the size of Ben the dog, and with a temperament that was awesome. She snuggled into laps, and was calm and timid. We really liked her too.

Last up was Rusty. 1 year old and a big Shepherd mix, but not too big perhaps. He was great with the Kiddos, sniffing and looking for attention, even from Sweet Pea who was calmly observing the chaos from her car seat. He was a really lovable dog.

Without trying hard, we agreed that either Emma, Autumn or Rusty would be a great fit in our pack. So we decided to see how Ben was with them. We had brought him along too meet any potential new pack mates. In hindsight, this may not have been the best idea.

When Ben gets into a new space, he gets really hyped up and very defensive of his personal space. So all of his meetings were growly. We took him and Rusty out into the exercise yard, where they completely ignored each other. Emma wanted to play with Ben, and couldn't seem to figure out what his deal was. We didn't try Autumn, as Ben had had enough stimulation for the day. It was beneficial though. Ben didn't attack anybody, and I was confident that any of the three we brought home would eventually win Ben over.

We headed home without a decision made. We did make lists of the pros and cons of each dog though, and throughout the evening and this morning kept asking each other which of the three we would pick if we had to choose right now. At each asking, a different dog would be chosen.

How would we make the choice?

Well, this morning we took the Boyo to a church sponsored daycare designed to let parents shop. While he was playing, we shopped and talked about the dogs. We ruled out Autumn because at 4 years old, she would be a senior dog in just a few years. The wounds from caring for and losing Rascal and Shoba are still too fresh, we didn't feel ready to face that again so soon with a new dog.

After more back and forth, I decided to let fate decide, much to The Wife's amusement. I pulled a quarter from my pocket, (Hawaii Quarter, with George Washington on one side and King Kamehameha I on the other) declared Heads would be for Emma and Tails would be for Rusty, and flipped the coin.

Heads. Emma it is. The Wife asked if I was sure. (She was already leaning towards Emma)

I flipped it again. Heads.

And again. Heads!

One more time. Yep, Heads!

Four for four.

Yep, I'm sure.

Now, as many of you know, Emma is also the name of our cat. We were going to need a new name. Yesterday, as the Boyo played with her, he kept saying "Come on Kitty! Get me Kitty" and such. But it just seems wrong on so many levels to name her Kitty, when she was just getting used to Emma, and Emma the cat is also known as Kitty around our home. Too much confusion.

So when we picked up the Boyo, I asked him what a good girls name would be for the new puppy.

"Ummm..... Joseph!" he said.

"Let's try again." Said I.

The Boyo is a creative sort, and has been for a time now with naming things. For many moons whenever he needs a name for something, he will often call that something 'Hollybeduda'. (That's pronounced Holly-beh-dude-ah) Not surprisingly then, when I asked him to try for another good girl's name, he answered with


So, meet Hollybeduda! We will be calling her Holly for short, since she's a Christmas dog and all...

After picking her up, we headed for home. I'll be sharing those adventures tomorrow! This is already too long!

More Later

Thursday, December 11, 2008

John of the Hood the sequel

We had our last archery class tonight. Shot from the 20 yard line. It was pretty fun. I alternated between the compound bow and the recurve. Lots of differences in those bows, but I did pretty well. With the sighted compound bow I could keep my groupings within six inches or so. Not quite so good with the recurve. That one is definitely more of an art form to shoot!

It doesn't cost much to rent equipment there, and I think as the kiddos grow, it might be a fun pastime to get into!

In other news, when I went to class tonight, gas was at $1.45, I thought to myself that I would fill up on the way home. But when I left class, everything had changed to $1.69! How long was I in that class???

Crazy days with gas prices. Something is rotten in Denmark...

More Later

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

John of the Hood

In an effort to maintain my sanity and have a life other than work, I've been browsing through the community education catalog for our fair town. Lots of good offerings, of course. So for fun, I signed up for an archery class!

I had to work on the first night, but the second night I was introduced to a compound hunting bow with peep sights. It was a far cry from the little 10 pound draw bow I shot twenty (twenty-five?)years ago. I found that my form was lousy. But the instructor went from the ground up. Feet placement. Hips. Torso. Shoulders. How to hold the bow. How to draw it back. How to use the sights. Turns out that the shooting fundamentals I learned in the Marines with M-16's transfer pretty well to a bow and arrow. At least those with sights! Once I got the sights zeroed in, I was pretty consistently peppering the center bulls eye with arrows.

During last nights class, I shot the nocks of of two arrows. Then during the third round of firing, I actually planted an arrow into the shaft of another arrow! I asked if I could keep it, but the instructor said he'd just cut the end off and re-nock it. I didn't think to ask for the cut off end at the time, as I was still euphoric at my Robin Hood shot.

Turns out that with a bow like that, I can pretty consistently hit a 2 inch target between ten and twenty yards.

Then I switched to a recurve bow. It is much like a "Robin Hood" bow. Just a curvy stick and a string. No sights. Nada for extras. The instructor ran me through the basics and I fired of a few flights of arrows with that. It was much more challenging. The first arrow I shot hit the bulls eye and the guy next to me said "Jeez, you are Robin Hood!" I then shot the next two arrows completely missing the paper target. My fourth arrow again hit the bull. It was a much tougher bow to aim.

Tomorrow night is our last class. I'm going to shoot the recurve only just for fun. Because while it is very satisfying to see all of my arrows in tidy little clusters, it is much more challenging to shoot without the fancy bow!

More Later

Monday, December 8, 2008

Long Week

A lot of stuff happened this past week. Not all of it all that great. I'm sure I'll write more on the happenings in the future. No worries though, I've got thick skin and am doing just fine.

Yesterday was Pearl Harbor day though. A day to reflect on the events that led to US involvement in WWII. A sneak attack. American forces caught by surprise. A foe that underestimated the fighting spirit and determination of the Americans. A long war with much damage done.

That fateful December morning was definitely a wake up call. Our foes hoped they had delivered a blow that would ensure their ultimate victory. But we rose up, gathered our resources, and fought back.

Ultimately, our world was forever changed. I wonder what would have happened had the enemy decided not to do the sneak attack. If they had talked things over with us first, about the problems they were having and such. Perhaps things would have been different.

But, we'll never know. The war was joined and their fate was sealed. All because their leaders made a poor decision and awakened a sleeping giant.

There are many lessons that can be learned from history. Unfortunately, many people ignore history and make the same mistakes. Pearl Harbor was a tragic event for our country, but it gave rise to a new America. Sometimes from conflict comes a better future. Unfortunately most humans think the only way to resolve a conflict is through fighting. They just aren't smart enough to know any other way. Well... Here's hoping future conflicts can be settled by talking rather than fighting.

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Monday, December 1, 2008


Happy December everyone! The search for a new pack member continues for us. But my sister's family has found one! She's not the one they were looking at, but as way leads on to way, turned out to be their dog.

We've decided to put the melancholy over Tobias behind, and start the adoption process on another dog. Meet Marco...

He's a Border Collie puppy, full of energy. We liked the pictures and liked the description. I think we're first in line for him. But we still have to meet him to see how we all interact.
I'm trying not to get my hopes up this time. If he's the right dog for us, then things will work out fine. If not, well, then we'll continue the search!
Rascal was a Border Collie mix, and was pretty much a puppy when he found us, so we have some experience with the breed. They are also known for their intelligence, and Marco's description states that he is learning quickly.
Rascal was a really great dog. But he didn't start out that way.
He was friendly, and very much the rubber puppy from day one. But when we brought him home he immediately started marking his territory, and moved so quickly that he had marked three or four spots before we could get him out the door. 'Rascal' was the nicest thing we could think to call him that wasn't an expletive! But he soon learned the ways of the pack, and was a fantastic dog for the better part of a decade.
Marco has too much white fur to look like Rascal. But if he's half as smart as Rascal was, we'll do just fine getting him trained to the pack. So, final results pending, but here's our newest possibility!
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